Friday, August 25, 2006

NCP's Grasp of Planning and Paradise

This morning's Nashville City Paper hard copy splashed a huge front page picture of "the island" along with a title that referred to plans of "an island paradise." I do not mean to split hairs and I am not by saying that there is a profound difference in meaning between a paradise and a concept. Those ideas are similar insofar as they both involve anticipation of something larger, but that is where the similarity ends. A paradise is some ideal state of beauty or delight either lost or only attainable through supernatural means. A concept is a general idea or plan that is derived from and dependent on what we already have in front of us. It is the difference between ideals and ideas. It is the difference between metaphysics and urban planning.

So, why the pitch wizards at NCP chose to headline this as a "paradise" rather than a "conceptual plan," I do not know. But, then again, I assumed that journalism was about accurately portraying someone else's ideas rather than embellishing them. Let us hope that this was just a weak NCP attempt to be cute and to turn a phrase, even if tritefully so. Let us hope that there is not another agenda at the NCP; say, for instance, an effort to jade opinions right out of the gate. A comment by one of their own this morning on the Charrette raised that unfortunate possibility. William Williams followed up his own request for feedback on the island with the personal conclusion that the idea is "a bit farfetched." Creating a paradise in the real world is called "a bit farfetched." Generating a concept from our real urban world, past and present, and then submitting that concept to real criteria is called "urban planning." I would maintain--from what I heard first-hand last night--that the prospect of this island is concept; it is most definitely not paradise.

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